Dune (1984)

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Director: David Lynch

Stars: Kyle McLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Max Von Sydow

Let’s pretend this never happened…

David Lynch is my favourite director. I’ve seen and loved all of his films (apart from Lost Highway, which I’ve yet to see) and even some of his short films. However, Dune is always one I’ve kind of avoided thanks to its famously troubled production history. Even David Lynch himself is ashamed of it! It wasn’t until I realised that I had two films of his left to see, and Dune was one of them. Did I really want Dune to be the last David Lynch film I see? No. So I bought it and went in with an open mind and even a tinge of excitement. After all, it’s a David Lynch film! And there’s many people who actually praise the film. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

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I may be a little biased because I’m not into this space opera kind of stuff. I watched the first two Stars Wars films recently and was bored by them both. So maybe I’m not the Dune target audience. I tried really hard at the beginning to understand what’s going on, but I quickly realised that it was useless, so I just let the whole thing wash over me. I’m still not really sure what it’s about. The son of some sort of planet queen going on an adventure to ride a giant sandworm and defeat the evil floating fat man? The screenplay is chock full of gobbledegook which only Trekkies would fully understand. However, I realise that this isn’t David’s fault. I’m sure his original three and half hour epic would’ve been much easier to follow.

A lot of people say that the special effects are really good. I’d say that 30% of them are good. I actually said “oh dear” out loud when Kyle McLachlan and Patrick Stewart had that block fight at the beginning. Most of the effects are hideous and the sets are too. They were obviously very expensive, but the sets look very cardboard in a Batman & Robin kind of way. The only thing more cardboard than the sets was the characterisations. I must admit that the giant worms were done very well, and all of the scenes with them were fairly entertaining. Everything else felt rather limp.

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I could deal with the wooden acting, as it made the ordeal easier to sit through. What I couldn’t deal with was the general dullness of it all. Dune bored me and I couldn’t wait until it was all over. I didn’t care about any of the cardboard characters. Even the usually likable Kyle is flat and rigid, and his love interest was sort of thrown into the mix for the sake of it! The only character I was interested in was the floating fat man, and that was mainly for the comic relief he brought, intentional or not. The directing was also rather plain and conventional. Even the dream sequences (David’s speciality) were poorly done.

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There’s one moment in Dune which ironically sums up everything about its tormented production. It’s the moment where David Lynch has a cameo as a spice harvester who gets eaten by a giant sandworm. David’s there trying his absolute hardest to harvest the best of the material, but the overwhelming production team destroy everything’s he’s worked towards and eat David in the process. Dune is the reason why every (good) director should have final cut and control on his/her film. I’m sure if David had complete control, then he would’ve given us a strange epic to cherish for years to come. However, he didn’t and so the film has been viscously butchered and has little redeeming value. Oh well, I suppose every good director has to have at least one bad film in his/her filmography?

threeoutoften

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